Gym owners move SC against sealing move

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Published on Sep 30, 2019 11:15 PM IST
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New Delhi

Six gym outlets have approached the Supreme Court against the monitoring committee’s September 24 order to seal fitness joints, including gyms, yoga and meditation centres, that opened after August 12, 2008.

The top court-appointed panel, supervising the sealing drive in Delhi, had said in its notice that such centres were not permitted on properties irrespective of these being in commercial, mixed land or non-notified areas.

The applicants want the top court to quash the notice or alternatively direct the civic authorities to hear them out. As an interim measure, the petitioners want the court to prohibit government agencies from taking coercive action.

Senior advocate Dhruv Mehta, appearing for the gym owners, mentioned the application before a bench led by Justice Arun Mishra on Monday. On his request, the bench agreed to give it an urgent hearing and fixed the matter for Friday.

The petition says fitness centres were permissible under the Master Plan for Delhi, 2021, and that owners had paid conversion charges for the mixed use of the properties. The premises had been hired on long-term leases for specific utilisation only after the owners got permission to operate after payment of mixed land-use charges.

The monitoring committee’s notice to the agencies to follow the law is virtually a direction to them to seal the premises and it has been done without affording an opportunity to the gym owners, the petitioners said.

They quoted provisions from the MPD-2021 to show that the entire objective of permitting mixed use was to make available certain services and activities to local residents. Also, it was to mitigate increased traffic and congestion if such residents were to travel to distant places to avail of the same services.

“The localisation of services also mitigates environmental impact,” the petition said. The notice strikes at the citizen’s rights to live a healthy life that has been recognized as part of right to life under Article 21, it said.

Closure of fitness centres would not just cause monetary loss to owners but also affect the livelihood of hundreds of employees working at these places.

A perusal of MPD-2021 shows fitness centres are restricted only to category A&B colonies and not in C to G categories, the petitioners said, questioning the legal validity of the notice.

Kamaljeet Sehrawat, leader of House, South Delhi Municipal Corporation, said, “Moving the Supreme Court is within the legal rights of the gym owners. We were anyway not going to take any immediate punitive action against fitness centres. Declaring fitness centres illegal through a cut-off date is not right rather it should be based on norms. Gyms and yoga centres neither create pollution nor traffic snarls so the action against such units doesn’t make much sense. The master plan needs to be amended. We have sought time from the minister of housing and urban affairs Hardeep Puri and will request him to amend the master plan so that sealing of gyms and yoga centres can be stopped.”

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